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Is someone you know a victim of human trafficking?

Anyone can become a victim of human trafficking because of the complexity of the crime

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Forcing someone into the sex industry by using violence, threats or coercion is a form of human trafficking.

According to Cpl. Emilie Jones, who works in the RCMP's Human Trafficking National Coordination Centre, 95 per cent of the cases they see happen here in Canada — and 93 per cent of those involve the sexual exploitation of young women. Half of those girls are between the ages of 18 and 24 and a quarter are under 18, though victims have been as young as 11 years old.

But she stresses that anyone can become a victim of human trafficking because of the complexity of the crime.

Jones outlines the red flags that could mean someone you know is a victim.

Showered with gifts

They start to own luxury items, like expensive jewelry or clothing, and begin to receive services, like professionally done hair and nails — none of which they could afford themselves.

In the early phase of the recruitment process, traffickers build trust with their victims, by romancing and seducing them.

Unreachable

They can't be reached, they've suddenly moved away with a new boyfriend or they're missing.

Traffickers will cut ties with victims' friends and families to isolate them as much as possible so the trafficker becomes their only support.

In fact, the RCMP suspects some missing person cases may also be human trafficking cases.

Stripped of identity

They don't have many personal belongings or any ID or they're from another city or province.

To increase a victim's isolation and dependency on them, traffickers strip victims of their identity as a form of security and frequently move them from city to city.

Controlled

They avoid eye contact and have someone speak on their behalf or make decisions for them. They are not allowed to leave without being escorted by someone. Traffickers control the victim by restricting their freedom.

Signs of abuse

They have unexplained bruises, cuts, broken bones, cigarette burns on the body or other signs of physical abuse.

Traffickers often use violence and threats to create a climate of fear that they use to control the victim.

Victims are warned that if they try to leave or disobey, their abuser will hurt the people they care about.

Marks and tattoos

They have scarring or a tattoo of a name, initial or symbol, such as a barcode, on their body. Traffickers often mark their victims as a sign of ownership.

Secrecy

They're secretive about their job or they work at odd hours of the day or night.

A person who has been trafficked may feel too ashamed and guilty to tell someone or the authorities. Many owe money to their traffickers for everything from transportation, food, drugs and are expected to repay it or will face severe consequences.

If you suspect someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8777) or your local police.

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